The second edition of ‘Habitat Photosphere’, a year-long photography festival conceptualised and curated by Dr Alka Pande and initiated by India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, has finally kicked off. The event – which revolves around the theme of sustainable development, commenced with the announcement of this edition’s four awardees of the Photosphere fellowship. Selected through an open call for application process, the four photographers – Juhi Saklani (New Delhi), Thulasi Kakkat (Kochi), Zishaan Akhbar Latif (Mumbai) and Syed Adnan Ahmed (Rajasthan) – have been given a Rs 2 lakh grant to produce a significant body of work that will be exhibited during the grand finale of the festival, slated for February – March, 2019. The awardees will be mentored throughout the year by an eminent panel of photographers including Aditya Arya, Bandeep Singh, Parthiv Shah and Prabir Purkayastha. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfHabitat Photosphere will bring together the spheres of photography and sustainability, through fellowship and mentorship, followed by a month-long grand finale of exhibitions, workshops, talks and screenings at India Habitat Centre. In addition, there will also be curated events and exhibitions on the theme of sustainability. The festival is followed up with a photo-book titled ‘Visual Arts Journal 2018 Photography: Art, Archive, Document’ that aims to position itself as a handbook of diverse scholarly works on photography from prominent authors, curators, and art practitioners. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveDr. Alka Pande, Festival Director, Habitat Photosphere stated: “We are a festival with a green conscience. While the first edition dealt with the subject of Panchtattvas (five elements) under the meta-narrative of sustainable development, this year’s focus will be on cultural sustainability, which is as relevant and pertinent as ecology and environment, and in fact, impact it as well. Also this year, there was a shortlist round where eight candidates were first shortlisted, and from which the final four were then selected.” Delhi-based Juhi Saklani’s photographs will be of trees and roots that grow out of the old walls and buildings, out of unexpected spaces. The idea is to emphasise the synergy and interconnectedness of life. The performative silhouette of the artist placed amongst these surroundings explores this interconnection. Thulasi Kakkat focuses on the eco-cultural significance of Theyyam, a ritualistic form of worship from Kerala. An unmistakable umbilical link existed between Theyyam, with its organic accouterments drawn from nature, and the biodiversity-rich wilderness of the sacred groves (Kaavus) home to Malabar’s pantheistic deities. A government report published in 1956 had identified some 10,000 Kaavus in various parts of Kerala. Fifty years hence, in 2015, just about 1,200 of them survived. Development has ushered most Theyyams out of what remained of the groves to built structures with open spaces engirdled by high compound walls.Speaking about the work, Kakkat said: “My aim is to document the surviving Kaavus with their integral Theyyam deities. I seek to explore the strong underpinning of eco-feminism that remains embedded in Theyyam, with its subaltern ecological identity that is at war with its own opportunistic transformation.”Syed Adnan Ahmed is dealing with the culturally and socially sensitive subject of rooster combat where animals are pitted against each other resulting in fatal injuries and pain.Zishaan Akhbar Latif is developing work around the “withering” away of the river Majuli in Assam, with an aim to speak to about larger consequence of climate change and those who continue to deny its existence. The primary sponsor for Habitat Photosphere 2018-19 is Dalmia Bharat.